Why write? It’s complicated. I had no intention of becoming a writer, to externalize my life and expose it on paper. But I found that every story matters, and if I can find meaning for myself, perhaps it will help others find a shaft of clarity. Isn’t that the main task of a storyteller?
Writing is a way to be seen and heard, to have something useful to say, and to have the courage to say it. My writing gives shape to my life. It’s good for my soul. It’s also an effective way to get my inner voice to pipe down. I can get on a royal tear about things, and yes, I can be vaingloriously all about me, but it provides me an opportunity to better understand myself, and to present myself on behalf of something larger than me. It allows me to ask the questions I consider worth asking, and perhaps, to answer them. It allows me to clarify my thoughts and ideas, to explore the stuff I wonder about or am afraid of.
I write a lot about my mother, and about her mother. I put in black and white what I know, or think I know. I write about possibilities and perspective. Incidents that crack me up or make me weep spill onto paper. I can wax poetic, but my lines rhyme, which I hear is out of style. I write about what matters to me: about sin and prayer, hope and gratitude, about where I beg to be healed. I write about those I love and those who irritate me, even when they’re one and the same. I chronicle stories of fools, friends, and family. I write to smuggle the stories from my mind into yours.
I began this journey 17 years ago out of a deep curiosity I had about my mother. I rounded up the family, gathered their stories, put pen to paper, and the result grew into a family memoir, Through Any Given Door, which I finally put to bed this last December. My first book, Passages from Behind These Doors, are 20 excerpts from the full memoir and is available online as a paperback, eBook, and a recording. It is also at Readers’ Books, as is Queen Bee, Reflections on Life and Other Rude Awakenings, my second book. Queen Bee is a compilation of short pieces I’ve composed over the years. Some are from my blog, many I’ve posted on Facebook, others are more recently written. A few are in memory of those who’ve passed. There is a chattering of exchanges with my young grandchildren and a section regarding my ancestors; I’ve spent years disturbing the dead in my family, digging up their stories, poring over their records, studying their photographs. I write to leave our legacy.
I invite you to careen around with me, reading these stories that live in the back seat of my mind. It’s always lovely to have company. We can hold hands across the pages and share tears in between. We can snort and hoot and holler. And hopefully, by the end, we’ll tell one another it was a great trip. Life, even with its continual barrage of rude awakenings, is always a ride.